Xavi rejected Barcelona offer to replace Valverde

Sajith B Warrier

Bengaluru, January 16: Barcelona great Xavi says he rejected an offer from the club to succeed Ernesto Valverde as head coach.

Valverde was sacked in the wake of the 2-3 defeat to Atletico Madrid in the semifinals of the inaugural expanded Supercopa de Espana this month.

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Xavi was reportedly on a shortlist of candidates put forward to the Barcelona board before former Real Betis boss Quique Setien was appointed on a two-and-a-half-year deal.

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The Al Sadd coach has confirmed he was made a formal offer by technical secretary Eric Abidal and CEO Oscar Grau but says he turned it down as it would be "too soon" for him to take charge at Camp Nou.

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"Yes, I received an offer from Barcelona in the presence of Eric Abidal and Oscar Grau, but I didn't accept it," he told reporters on Thursday.

"It's too soon to coach Barcelona, but it'll continue to be my dream to be Barcelona coach in the future."

Xavi is said to have met three times with Abidal and Grau in Doha last weekend, and he admits the uncertainty made it difficult to focus on his job at with Qatar Stars League champions Al Sadd.

However, the former Spain star insists he is now fully focused ahead of Friday's (January 17) Qatar Cup final against Al Duhail.

"I told my family first and then the Al Sadd players because they were following the topic," he said when asked who first learned he had turned down Barca's approach.

"I wasn't in my best position during the three days, but I'm now totally focused on Al Sadd."

Al Sadd take on Al Duhail in the final of the Qatar Cup at their home ground at 5.30pm local time (8pm IST) on Friday (January 17).

Al Sadd beat Al Rayyan 4-1 in the first semifinal while Al Duhail defeated Al Sailiya 2-0 in the other last-four encounter of the of sixth edition of the prestigious tournament.

Al Duhail had deafeated Al Sadd 2-1 when the two sides met last time in the final of the 2018 edition.

(With inputs from Agencies)

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